About Us

Community Houses of the Outer Eastern Suburbs

You might know your local Neighbourhood House as a Community House, Community Centre, Living and Learning centre, we operate under a few different names with each organisation working with their community to reflect local needs. Despite the different names, Houses in the CHAOS network all provide opportunities to meet other people, learn, celebrate, laugh, exercise, upskill, volunteer and make friends.

Most Neighbourhood Houses are governed by volunteer committees and run by paid staff, others managed by local government or other organisations. Some provide quality, affordable childcare. Most can provide pre-accredited adult education courses and some are Registered Training Organisations that offer certificate and diploma courses. All offer opportunities to participate, learn, volunteer and get to know your community.

Activities are generally run at low or no cost to participants. 

Among the most common are:

  • Health and wellbeing activities
  • Social activities
  • Art and craft
  • Computer training / digital literacy
  • Community events
  • Community lunches / Social eating groups
  • Self help and support groups
  • Seniors' groups
  • Life skills education
  • Play groups
  • Internet access
  • English as a Second Language


Recognising the diverse nature and the autonomy of each Member Organisation of the Network, the purposes of the Network are:

  • To be a mutual support network and information sharing group for all Neighbourhood and Community Houses which are Member Organisations
  • To provide an advocacy role in representing the interests of CHAOS Member Houses in development of public policy and in sustaining viability
  • To support individual Houses in developing and maintaining good practice within their organisations
  • To provide training, access to training, and professional development opportunities for Member Houses
  • To develop and implement policies and strategies of the Governance Committee
  • To promote the philosophies of the Neighbourhood House movement within the wider community
  • To work with other networks to strengthen and enrich the Neighbourhood House movement at regional, state and national levels.


The Outer Eastern Association of Community Centres was formed in April 1979 by a number of Community groups who had been meeting for the previous 18 months and recognised the benefits of formalising their group. The members identified a key benefit as follows: “As a group we could further assist with and develop mutual support and sharing of resources between Community Centres in the region.” The acronym CHAOS was already being used in 1979 but it is unclear if that was to reflect aspects of the group’s name or the era in which it was formed.

Over the years, membership of the group continued to expand and the Association was successful in gaining funding to employ a networker to resource the group. In 1997 the members became an Incorporated Association, formally becoming the Community Houses Association of the Outer eastern Suburbs Inc, known as CHAOS Inc.

In 2023 CHAOS is a network of 30 Neighbourhood Houses, Community Houses, Learning Centres, Community Centres and Community Cottages covering the local government areas of Yarra Ranges, Knox, Maroondah, parts of Manningham and Whitehorse. We also have one member organisation located in Murrindindi Shire.

The original vision of developing and sharing resources and mutual support still remain at the core of our existence.

‍The original vision of developing and sharing resources and mutual support still remain at the core of our existence.


The committee of governance is made up of elected staff, volunteers and committee members from CHAOS member organisations. Committee members are elected as individuals not as representatives of their organisation or another group.

Samantha Blackwell Chairperson
Catherine Collopy Treasurer
Sharon Cosgriff Secretary
Jenelle Strachan General member
Heather McTaggart General member
Nicky Condello General member
Anne Kean General member